Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Razor's Edge

     The other day I was racing down the friendly local interstate highway at high speed, trying desperately to stay ahead of a group of severe thunderstorms that were, at that time, producing tornado warning after tornado warning for areas just behind me and to my right.  Literally, the EAS was going off on my radio almost nonstop for about a half hour.  Anyway, I was racing along, watching promising blue sky in the direction I was going and seeing black sky with lightening behind me in my rearview mirrior, and I whizzed through a couple of construction zones.  You know, the kind on major freeways where they have nighttime lane closured only to avoid disturbing traffic too much.  Well, it was about time for those nighttime people to start, and they were just in the process of putting out the barrels to close the lanes as I went by.  I saw them all, many of their trucks pointed the direction of the storm, and thought to myself: "I wonder if they know what's coming for them?"
     I am sure they knew.  They had to know.  At least one of them was looking right at it.  But I wondered if they knew just how bad it was going to be, just how storng those clouds slowly marching towards them in an ever more ominous fashion happened to be.  Now they were obviously seasoned construction workers who I am sure have survived through many severe thunderstorms in their time on the job.  This was evidenced by the fact that none of them seemed to be overly concerned, and that they were doing basically nothing to cope with the incoming weather.  In truth, it did have a very storm chasing video sort of feel about it, with the different colors and degrees of severity in the sky, the cars whizzing around, and all the flashing lights on the construction vehicles.  It was freaking me out a little bit.
     So, thinking about this stiuation, the question just begs to be asked?  Is ignorance really bliss?  How much information is too much information?  That is a tricky question.  I am a big fan of information - knowledge is power, right?  But knowledge also implies a certain degree of responsibility, and that scares a lot of people.  Like I said, I am all for information - the capital of the Phillippines (Manila), how much rain fell in Pendleton, Oregon yesterday (none), the chemical formula for table salt (NaCl - easy), or who were the major combatants in the War of the Pacific (Bolivia, Peru, and Chile, but no necessarily in the order).  Some information, though, I don't want.  I don't want to know that my girlfriend screwed 3/4 of the lacrosse team in college, and that it wasn't the lacrosse team from her school even.  I don't want to know that Larry in accounting has been skimming off the top since 1992.  I don't want to know what is going on behind those prison doors.  And I definitely do not want to know what is in that hot dog.
      What, then, does a guy like me do then, when I want to know stuff but then hey, I just don't really want to know.  As the Counting Crows said, "All I really know is I don't want to know."  But I do.  But I don't.  But I do.  Somewhere along the way the desire to have no responsibility outweighs my natural curiosity and thirst for useless knowledge.  I have to strike that fine line, to live on that razor's edge - you were wondering what that title was all about, weren't you - and know just enough so that I can make it through dinner parties and so I am not caught unaware like I hope those construction workers were not, but be just ignorant enough that I don't get put away as an accessory to something and so I can sleep well at night and not have to worry about moral and ethical decisions.
      Unfrotunately, life doesn't always work out that neatly - we all know that.  Sometimes you have to be willing to accept a little of the type of knowledge that comes with responsibility, especially if you want to get paid.  And sometimes you have to get caught in the teeth of some sort of situation without any prior knowledge.  It helps you grow.  But to try to maintain that razor's edge, that is the way to go.  At least it's the way for me.  Now leave me along.  I don't want to hear your gossip; I am trying to read about mitochondrial DNA (only passed on by the mother).  Knowledge is power.

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